History of Affiliate marketing
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to The Prodigy network In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy (Reference-PC Week Article Jan 9, 1995). By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996 and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007 and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009 for affiliate marketing and tracking (Reference-Business Wire-Jan, 24, 2000). In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores (Reference- Business Wire- March 31, 1999). On March 9, 2009 Tobin assigned his patents to the Tobin Family Education and Health Foundation. The Foundation licenses the patents to many of the largest affiliate marketing companies in the US and Japan. Tobin discusses the P.C Flowers & Gifts service on the Internet as well as the other nine companies he has founded in his book entitled “Confessions Of A Compulsive Entrepreneur And Inventor”. The concept of revenue sharing paying commision for referred business—predates affiliate marketing and the Internet. The translation of the revenue share principles to mainstream e-commerce happened in November 1994, almost four years after the origination of the World Wide Web Cybererotica...
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